I have been interested in this area for over a decade. Inspired enough that I found an old map
I threw together back when I was practically
a kid. HAZ legend Abe
shares a nice trio of descriptions for the area. I have read all many times.
Due to my ankle Bruce agreed to a reasonable "Hansenaz
" approved size loop. I wrote to him
this isn't super exciting but it's been on my wish list for a decade (and very in-season)
My expectations were rock bottom. I was expecting pleasant temps with a lot of junipers and low chaparral.
The drive to the trailhead was interesting in itself. I knew the only thing that keeps Prescott from being a suburb to Phx is the Bradshaw range. I didn't realize it went halfway to Nevada. So this is where all the Californians have decided to call their new home...lol Moderately nice homes dot hill after hill further than most probably imagine.
Oaks and Willows Trail #3
The trailhead greeted us with some nice fancy trees
. I assured Bruce this wouldn't last. Boy was I wrong. While it isn't a desert fairytale hike under a tree canopy there are trees galore. Only a handful of the pines are huge with the red bark
. George Wood Canyon is probably the sweet spot for most.
#3 drops down into Pine Creek via what may be an old road
through thick medium sized pines. There is an abundance of oaks throughout. Many of which grow in those circle boquete patches with the outer ones arching out. I'm not gonna call the guy that named the trail a liar but we didn't find the willows referred to in the name. I imagine it was near one of the springs. Since they all seem to be piped and contained these days the ol' willows are probably long gone.
Further down Bruce was babbling his head off as usual. I looked over and saw another hiker next to him. My mind processed real quick that it was a rattlesnake
. In a funny twist I couldn't verbalise it correctly to Bruce. Which led to him getting extra close followed by the funniest rising kachina dance I've ever seen.
Trail #9124 - Prescott NF
This trail may see a hunter every other year at most but it worked out well for our reasonable sized loop. When it ended we followed a route Bruce created. We got semi lucky as there is a hint of a game trail. We lunched at 10.7mi into our loop at the 6,650 ft contour. The rim was only 400 feet away but we needed to eat and thoughts of lack of shade sealed the deal.
After a pleasant lunch Bruce aborted the ravine and picked a clearer route.
Juniper Mesa Trail #20
We stumbled into #20 and were immediately taken by the rim views. We proceeded west and up for 5-10 minutes then checked out multiple outcroppings
. Albeit windy as heck we agreed this was one of the finer parts of this hike.
The western end of #20 was a little more of what I expected. Yet the junipers were more exciting being 4 seed alligator vs 2 seed Utah or 1 seed I'd envisioned.
Bull Spring Trail #100
This one heads STRAIGHT down like a screaming 2 year old. Luckily it eases up quick. After Bull Spring it rides a bench west then contours some ravines before it meets up with #3.
#20 & #3 are most enjoyable. Just not enough for me to slap on a 4 of 5 rating. #100 is best traveled down if you despise sweating profusely. Trailhead registers suggests very few enter the area. I think it's a local hush. Our average high temp
for the day was around 75. Typically breezy it felt nice. When the breeze died and the shade let up it felt like the hottest 75 on earth...lol There are better hikes closer to valley but this was nice enough for me. I think it would make an excellent backpack if you are into that type of torture.
Thanks to Bruce for getting up several official routes for the area, driving and reminding me how to claim food by licking it!